IN a world where innocent people too often suffer at the hands of cruelty and injustice, it may sometimes seem that prayer isn't of much practical help. Yet the Biblical promise ``The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much''1 shouldn't be brushed aside. Prayer is vitally important, because prayer involves turning to our creator for help, and there simply isn't a greater power. Because we can't physically see God, we may be inclined to think He is an abstraction, of little help in the face of war, starvation, homelessness, hostage-taking. Actually, nothing but divine power can impel solutions to such challenges. It's precisely because God is omnipresent, almighty Spirit, unseen by material eyes, that our prayers to Him can have an impact on even the most complex troubles around the globe.
``That all sounds fine,'' we may think, ``but the fact remains that people are suffering, often through no fault of their own. Where is God? Why doesn't He help?'' This is an understandable feeling, and it can seem pretty acute the more deeply we care about mankind. In a sense, though, the question ``Why doesn't He help?'' implies that God is less than God; that for some reason He allows all this evil -- or even wills it -- and is unable or unwilling to help. But God is never less than supreme Spirit, universal Love, as we can learn from the Bible and as Christ Jesus proved so powerfully. God causes good alone. Suffering is not a product of God but of what St. Paul termed ``the carnal mind,'' which is ``enmity against God.''2 It's a product of materialistic thinking, of the general conviction that life exists separate from God, subject to forces beyond our control.
Life is God, and God is good. The man of God's creating expresses His goodness. This true individuality of each of us is safe in the creator's care, free to express the fullness of the divine nature. Man, as God's likeness, is spiritual and indestructible, never a product of heredity or environment, never oppressed, never a victim of terror. This often seems far from reality, but it is reality in the truest sense, because the outcome of an infinitely good creator must be, and is, only good.
How does this relate to suffering on the human scene? If our prayers are imbued with at least some understanding of what God and man really are, with a conviction that injustice and suffering are not immovable realities but baseless impositions in the face of Spirit's supremacy, our prayers must have a healing impact. They must help to purify, even if gradually, the atmosphere of thought that promotes evil. They must help dissolve, at least by degrees, the fearful perception that misfortune is a fixed fact, a rigid condition. If evil is a fixed fact, there's little anyone can do about it. But because it's not, changes can come about, and prayer can help foster the mental climate in which change takes place. It can help bring to light useful steps and potential solutions.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it.''3 And also, ``The `still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound.''4
We can play an active, decisive role in helping humanity. Prayer is a powerful help.
1James 5:16. 2Romans 8:7. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 2. 4Ibid., p. 559.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? I John 3:17